4 thoughts on “Reading Literature on Screen: A Price for Convenience?

  1. I think there is truth to this. I confess that I have very little recall of the books I read on my Kindle. I don’t know if it’s a tactile thing—you aren’t holding a book, turning pages slowly, underlining passages (I do; I’m quite brutal to books I love)—or because it’s too tempting to switch to the internet and start goofing around with email, flickr, games, etc. , thus breaking my concentration. But I’ve stopped buying e-books and will only download free loans, “because I can.” If I really wish to read a book, I’ll either go to the library, or search the used bookstores for a copy. Dealing with the paper book is admittedly a pain, since I live in a place with so little storage space: but I love being surrounded by stacks of real, “dead trees” books.

    I should add, my children think I am an old fogey for being this way.


  2. Part of the problem is refresh rate. All electronic displays flicker as they repaint the image on the display, often at 60 Hertz. That frequency of flickering induces a mild trance in us the way a strobe light might cause a seizure in an epileptic. The mild trance interferes with absorption of what we are reading and can also impair concentration and prevent us from noticing subtexts. It’s also probably why most people find long online text documents to be tedious to read when we don’t feel the same way about long print documents. I actually wrote a blog post about this entitled “All Hail the Great tl;dr”


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